It’s the beginning of a new school year and you catch up with old faces while meeting some new. Things are going swimmingly until you inevitably meet The Bro in your science class who seems a little too comfortable with his sexuality and you find yourself falling in love — fast. Oh shit.

1. Questioning His Sexuality
Okay, so you’re pretty sure The Bro is straight but also… he’s been flirting with everything that moves for the past hour and you don’t know how to feel about that. Besides, a good start to any journey of self-discovery begins with Denial. Eventually you ask his friends who tell you that yes, he is in fact, somehow, against all common sense, straight.
2. Experiencing the Five Stages of Grief Because This Will Not End Well
Well, now it’s time to fall into a deep depression as you realize that you will never love any man (to your knowledge) as much as you’ve loved this Stupid Fuckboy who doesn’t realize that you’ve been pining longer than he can comprehend and that he will never know what he’s missed out on. You are a treasure, after all. This is the time when you may feel angry at yourself for being so stupid to fall in love with a Hetero again. You may also find yourself turning to religion once again, bargaining with God that somehow things may turn out in your favor.
3. Crying Into Oreos
So you’ve accepted that he never has and never will pay any romantic attention to you. That’s completely fine, because You Are An Adult, and this stuff shouldn’t bother you. And because You Are An Adult, you buy an entire box of Double-Stuf Oreos (the good stuff of course, because you deserve it), and put on Love, Simon for the 17th time this year, sobbing silently along for the 17th time this year.

4. Stalking Him and Blocking Him on Social Media
Every once in a while, when you feel extra cute, you send him some selfies. Every positive comment sends you over the moon and you start personally identifying a little too closely to Skinner’s pigeons. After realizing that you may have developed an unhealthy obsession with his social media, however, you decide to block him and definitely stop following his every move on the Snapchat map.

5. Self-Delusion
He’s gotta know that you’re into him after all this time and the fact he hasn’t shunned you means he’s either closeted or straight-passing and is interested in you, right? And even if he is straight, then maybe you’re special and it’ll work out? (Hint: he’s still straight and it still won’t work out.)
6. Cleansing Your Home
You may feel the indescribable urge to scream into the void right now so you decide to embark on a spiritual journey to cleanse your soul and become a better Christian or whatever. You will do things like cleansing your home with sage and make some lemon- and mint-infused water if you’re feeling like you really want to turn over a new leaf. Maybe you even take up yoga or something like that.
7. Downloading, uh, Let’s Just Call is Christian Mingle
You finally download “that app” that you’ve heard so much about. You find some nice selfies and you decide to have fun for a while. You get to talk to people from all walks of life and enjoy meeting the people you talk to. Eventually, between the flakes and the catfishes, your “dates” with people no longer feel fulfilling or exciting and you end up deleting the app. It was for the best anyways.
8. Downloading Troye Sivan Albums
You need some comfort music and who better to help you in this fruitless and painful journey than Troye Sivan? Feel free to substitute Troye Sivan with any other gay style of music (disco, emo, synth pop) but please remain at an appropriate level of broodiness to maintain your cool and detached reputation. This is the slow beginning of the recovery process. Strap yourself in for the rest of the ride.
9. Stop Looking for Him
You’re at the end of the tunnel now. You no longer find excuses to drop by his workplace in the hopes of catching glimpses of him or make inane trips out of your way on the off-chance of seeing him somehow. You’ve done all of the hard things. It’s all about saving what’s left of your pride here now.
10. Salvaging the Friendship
It’s time to make a concentrated effort toward falling out of love with him. Look at his cringe-y Instagram! Realize that he doesn’t shower as often as he should! Channel your old detective skills that you honed as a kid playing “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” and find every single disgusting thing you could possibly find on this boy so you can fall out of love with him. You don’t need love anyways, it’s overrated. Besides, you know soooo many cool bachelors who never got married so falling in love is just like, whatever, man.
11. Be His Friend (and Only His Friend)
This is the step where you pretend that you have only ever liked him as a friend. For your dignity. Because of course you never liked him romantically and spent countless nights pining over him. Why would you? That’s stupid. Feel free to become his best friend or confidant for his straight adventures, still screaming into the void every time he talks about falling in love with a woman. But only because you’re weird about romance still and not because you’re still into him a little, or like, whatever.
12. Getting Over Him
You’ve finally completely fallen out of love with him. You can legitimately say that you’re happy for him, even when hearing about him liking someone else would have been a knife to the heart before. You’ll probably become his best man at his wedding and after turning 80 years old in Gay Years, an old and decrepit man who no longer has any sex appeal, and you wonder if you should have spent your youth loving this man. (Hint: probably not.)
Overall, it was a journey of enrichment and self-discovery. Now you know more about yourself than you ever did, and it really was about the growth that happened during the journey rather than the destination, right? I mean, if it was about the ending then you really did waste all those years of your youth… But now you’re wiser and won’t fall for that trap again! Unless that really boyishly cute guy next to the DJ is somehow straight…